What to wear as a nurse

nurse’s uniform may well be dependent on employer requirements and your particular line of work, but there are some personal choices you can make in this field whilst still maintaining a professional appearance and meeting your employer’s expectations. This article will detail some of the key clothing and accessory items you’ll need as a nurse, and important features to look for.

Dress codes

Healthcare providers have individual requirements that need to be adhered to. There will be bespoke rules per practice or healthcare centre, and there may be a specific style or theme of uniform you should expect to wear.

Before purchasing a uniform, you must check with your employer for your dress code.There are general regulations in terms of dress code that apply to most registered nurses across the UK, but you should always check your own trust or practice’s guidelines.

Generally, the principles or requirements are as follows:

  • Work clothes must be professional, clean and practical
  • Casual clothing is not permitted
  • A Trust identity badge and name badge must be worn throughout your shift
  • Footwear in clinical areas must be closed, low heel and firmly attached to the foot
  • High-risk activities require the use of protective footwear (Eg. Handling and moving operations)
  • Hair must be neat and tidy, not artificially coloured and be worn off the face and collar
  • Facial hair should be tidy and presentable
  • Head coverings must be clean and secure
  • Any jewellery and makeup that is worn must be subtle
  • All body piercings should be discreet and either removed or covered at the workplace
  • Staff are not permitted to chew gum on shift or during professional meetings
  • If staff members smoke in public places, uniform and ID badge must be covered

The colour of your uniform

The colour of a nurse’s uniform varies depending on their role within the hospital. Most hospitals have a colour-coding system for their uniform scrubs. It is important to note that these will vary from health practice to health practice. Whatever your scrubs or uniform requirements, we will have the shade you need to conform to the hospital or health practice’s different department dress codes.

Interestingly, there is evidence to suggest that different colours worn within the hospital or healthcare centre are determined for scientific reasons. For example, surgeons tend to wear green or blue because the human brain interprets colors relative to each other.

If a surgeon stares at something that’s red and pink, he becomes desensitized to it. The red signal in the brain fades, which could make it harder to see the nuances of the human body.

Looking at something green from time to time can keep someone’s eyes more sensitive to variations in red, according to John Werner, a psychologist who studies vision at the University of California, Davis.

Nurses scrubs

Medical scrubs are a common component of a nurse’s expected uniform. These offer a sterilised outfit which gives minimal risk for contamination and helps to easily identify a nurse within a hospital or medical centre.

Scrubs are often a solid blue colour and worn as a tunic with trouser combination, but the option to wear a scrub top is also available, all at Alexandra. Most of our scrubs can be washed at 60 degrees, to ensure greater infection control, but should also be ironed after tumble drying for a more professional appearance.

Nursing Dress

A dress can make for a long-lasting and smart uniform, and there are several types of dresses available to wear as a nursing staff member, including striped, zip front and mandarin collar options.

The majority of regulations specify that a dress must sit below the knee and be accompanied by plain stockings or tights unless the weather is extremely hot. Made from no-fade fabric and industry approved, Alexandra can provide quality nursing dresses at affordable prices.

Work shoes

As a nurse, you’ll likely be on your feet all day or for extended periods of time. A practical and comfortable shoe is essential to maintain your appearance and ensure your feet feel as secure and comfortable as possible. When considering your next nurse’s shoes, it’s important to select a durable pair that can cope with the long working days. General specifications tend to lean towards nurses shoes being black, low heeled and with quiet soles. Whatever your requirements, Alexandra can provide a variety of footwear options.

Disposable gloves

Surgical gloves, or more specifically nitrile gloves, area key part of a nurse’s uniform and something you’re expected to carry with you. Healthcare gloves provide you with a layer of protection when handling liquids such as blood or other samples. They also prevent a nurse from directly touching a patient’s body, which could potentially lead to the spread of bacteria from either party.

There are several situations when a nurse may be required to wear examination gloves, these could include but are not limited to:

  • Changing a patient’s clothing
  • Sterilising or cleaning medical equipment
  • When encountering a patient possessing a virus or condition that could spread


Despite the rising popularity of using mobile phones to tell the time, many nurses still prefer the ease and professionalism of a fob watch to keep track of time. A fob watch stops you needing to reach into your pockets throughout the day and stops the chance of poor patients’ perceptions from seeing a nurse using their mobile phone. A fob watch will prove to be an important accessory to your outfit, perfect for medical tests that require precise timings or keeping you on time for meetings that cannot be missed.

Extra accessories that may be helpful

  • Lanyard
  • ID badge holder
  • Retractable clip
  • Penlight

Important features of healthcare uniforms to look out for

  • Protection - Having a uniform which protects both you and patients from the spreading of germs, bacteria and bodily fluids is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry. This is where accessories such as medical gloves are utilised to their fullest and reiterates the importance of a clean set of scrubs whilst on duty.
  • Comfort - With long hours and overnight shifts, comfort is of great importance whilst you’re at work. From ensuring you have the correct footwear that won't rub or cause irritation, to checking your scrubs are easy to wear and not too tight. These small changes could make or break your mood during a shift.